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Expressive writing appears to change thoughts and feelings about cancer
Date:2/22/2008

Expressive writing --writing about ones deepest thoughts and feelingsmay help change the way cancer patients think and feel about their disease. In one of the first studies published in an oncology journal about the benefits of writing therapy, researchers say those who immediately reported changes in thoughts about their illness also reported a better physical quality of life three weeks later.

Previous research suggests expressive writing may enhance physical and psychological well-being, said Nancy P. Morgan, M.A., writing clinician and director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Centers Arts and Humanities Program. But most of those studies involved three to five writing sessions that were conducted in a controlled laboratory setting. Here, we found that just one writing session in a busy cancer clinic where the patients are frequently interrupted can still have a positive impact on patients. The study appears in the February issue of The Oncologist.

Morgan and her colleagues conducted their study in the clinic waiting area of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center between July and November 2006. It included a pre-writing survey, twenty minutes of expressive writing, a post-writing survey, and an optional follow-up survey that was completed by telephone 3 weeks later. Seventy-one (71) adult leukemia or lymphoma patients (51 percent male, 49 percent female) attending an appointment with a medical oncologist for treatment or follow-up participated in the study.

All participants completed the pre-survey, while 63 (88 percent) completed the 20-minute expressive writing exercise, responding to prompts including: How has cancer changed you and how do you feel about those changes?

We were interested in assessing psychological and social outcomes following the writing, including quality of life, benefit finding, and reports of whether the writing changed the way participants thought and felt about their cancer experience, M
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Contact: Karen Mallet
mallet.karen@gmail.com
414-312-7085
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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